Effective Leadership through Uncharted Territories
Updated: Jun 8
The pandemic has affected each of us differently but one thing we can all agree on is that business as we knew it has forever changed. As leaders, we must be flexible to these changes. Does your leadership style allow for that? Are your skills keeping up? Keep those questions in mind as we look at just a few of the ways business has changed in the last year.
Work space no longer means offices and cubicles. Work-From-Home (WFH) and Work-From-Anywhere (WFA) are the norm, not the exception. We've gotten used to business meetings taking place in the kitchen, on the living room couch or in the car. Thankfully, we have great video tools now readily available to make this possible. And, after a few frustrating months, it seems as if most of us are getting close to becoming adept at using those tools. Though it's definitely not what the majority of us would prefer, it certainly has helped keep many companies moving forward with business as usual.
With tens of millions of people in our country and hundreds of millions world-wide experiencing layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts and other less dramatic disruptions, the foundations of trust in the employee-employer relationship have been shaken, if not destroyed. What does this mean for us as leaders? How can we rebuild and strengthen relationships with our people?
We learned pretty quickly that traditional business planning and management is no match for a pandemic. How were any of us to know what was coming down the pike as we set our goals way back in Q4 of 2019? Though we had great plans and big ideas, a lot of that work went to waste as those goals had nothing to do with re-shifting entire business models to adhere to new guidelines and regulations. How can we think differently about how we plan for the next month, quarter or year?
Thousands of businesses in our country have already closed and many more are on the brink. However, many businesses will survive and move forward in this new reality. Companies with strong, flexible leaders who are excited to face the challenges head on, those with a compelling vision communicated clearly and often to an aligned team and those that run on meaningful, timely data, will be leading the pack. How do you get there? We have a few suggestions...
1. Create and Communicate a Compelling Vision
A foundation of business success begins with a clear plan for the future that makes a difference in the lives of those served. This vision must include both a long-term view of a future better than today as well as plans for short-term tactics that move the business forward in meaningful ways. It must also include plans for building and maintaining a desired culture based on shared values.
To make the vision compelling, effective leaders, now more than ever, must be skilled and practiced at clearly communicating the vision. Some of our clients who really excel at this communicate their company's vision through banners, posters or words painted on the walls of their buildings. Others include it on their business cards and in their email signatures. We even have one owner who has it tattooed on his arm! Just joking about that last one but you get the point. Your company's vision cannot sit on a piece of paper in the owner's office. In order to get your team fully aligned around where you're going, they have to be privy to the plan.
2. Align Your Team
Great leaders successfully navigate turbulent times by making sure their team is aligned with the vision for the future, the values on which the culture is built and a clear, prioritized action plan broken into weekly increments.
So, how do you align your team around a single goal? Better yet, how do you optimize your team members' skills and strengths to come up with and make that next great idea a reality? We truly believe a team of people aligned with a compelling vision all working in harmony can bring to life great ideas an individual can only dream of. See How Strong Teams Rise to the Occasion for more on this.
In order to overcome the eroding employer-employee relationship, this alignment must exist throughout the organization. Successful business leaders execute tactics that drive this alignment throughout the company, embedding it in all areas including the recruiting, selection and performance management processes. This includes setting clear expectations for how the alignment comes to life in the direction of the company as well as the behaviors of the people and the results of their work.
3. Identify and Track Meaningful Data
Especially in a time of chaos, measuring progress toward a compelling vision with meaningful, actionable and timely data is critical. Using real-time data tracked on a weekly cadence to manage a business can accelerate the business quickly past your competitors.
Many business systems collect all sorts of data and really, most business leaders and managers actually have more data than they know what to do with. The secret to success is to identify the few metrics that are most meaningful. We recommend a mix of forward-looking activity-based metrics as well as backward-looking data that confirms the results. With meaningful and timely data, an aligned team can make decisions to adjust the business responsively to a quickly changing environment.
We’ve seen success in businesses who have leaders with the ability and skills to communicate a compelling vision, gather an aligned team and empower them to manage the business, all while keeping their finger on the pulse of meaningful, timely data.
Will Your Vision Take You to the Next Level?
Every business faces a crossroads at some point. Owners and leaders look to the future and may know exactly where they want to be but they don’t always know how they’re going to get there. To make things more difficult, most employees don’t have a clear sight line to their company’s vision.
So, how do you go from a blurry, ineffective vision to one that unifies and ignites your team?
Join Business Advisor, Brian Alwin, as he shares what differentiates a strong company vision from a weak one and outlines specific actions you can take as a leader to help create a compelling company vision and move your business further, faster.
Tuesday, March 9th | 7:30 - 9:00 am | Online Event | Register Here